Sugar and obesity

Food and drink provides our bodies with energy in the form of calories. If we consistently consume more ‘energy’ or calories than our bodies use, then this can lead to an accumulation of excess body fat. This can then result in weight gain.

In England, according to the latest government statistics, among adults age 16 and over,  68% of men and 60% of women are overweight or obese. In addition, among children aged 2 to 15, 18% of boys and 13% of girls were obese. These statistics were published in December 2020 for the period 01 January 2019 to 31 December 2019 (55).

Obesity is a complex issue and there are many factors which contribute (64). For example, many of us are simply leading less active lifestyles – whether that’s sitting at a desk all day long, driving more and walking less, or watching TV. If we are consuming more calories than we need the result is excess weight gain. We need to think about our lifestyles just that little bit more and how we can balance what we eat (for example by counting calories) with what the body uses.

Just like protein, starch and fat, sugar is a source of calories in the diet and excess calories from any ingredient or product can lead to weight gain. However the suggestion that sugar alone is responsible for the rise in obesity rates in the UK is too simplistic. It also is not supported by Government statistics which show a reduction of around 18% per capita in consumption of total sugars in the UK since 2001 (51).

The best way to maintain a healthy weight is to eat a healthy balanced diet and to exercise on a regular basis. Your doctor can advise you on the best diet for your individual needs.

Physical activity and exercise can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke and help maintain a healthy weight. (45)